It’s been three months since Hazard and Somers stared down their past and survived it, but enough went down to leave deep scars. It’s also been three months since Hazard resigned from the police force. In that time, Somers has been given a new partner and Hazard is not doing well. Of course, he’ll tell Somers everything is fine, but Hazard never wants to leave the house and he’s overly focused on household tasks, and things are not fine at home.
It’s Halloween and a local professor is murdered during his party in front of all the guests. No one knows who the killer is and Somers and his new partner are now on the case. Hazard, who has been considering becoming a private investigator, can’t seem to stay away and finds himself drawn to the case as well, but Hazard no longer has jurisdiction.
The case seems to have many layers and when the sheriff’s son and husband disappear, it seems like there is no end to this case. But there are new forces at work in their small town and someone may once again have their sights set on Emery Hazard as the case becomes personal.
The Rational Faculty is listed as book one of new Hazard and Somerset series, A Union of Swords. The first part of their story arc came to an end as Hazard found out details of his high school boyfriend’s death and both Somers and Hazard had their final showdown with Mikey. They are now moving on to life after, with Hazard no longer being a cop. Still, I feel it would be difficult to start here without having read the other series as their current story is built on the previous books and there are still many references made to their past.
Right away, I was brought back into the lives of Emery Hazard and John-Henry Somerset. The writing here is evocative and the detail and atmosphere work to be one of Ashe’s best books to date. When the story opens, three months have passed since their final ordeal with Mikey. Hazard left the police force by his own decision, but he is not in a good place and their relationship is suffering. It was a little heartbreaking to see them in this state after everything they had been through. Hazard is depressed and he doesn’t know how to speak the words or ask for help. Somers has his own issues to deal with and the men, who have never been good with communicating with each other, are moving further apart. However, the love they have for each other is visceral and raw and the flashes of deep intimacy we are shown define their relationship, and the smallest moments become their best moments.
Another murder has hit their town, as a professor at the local college is killed. The case takes the men on yet another twisting journey to uncover the truth. Hazard is acting as a private investigator, covertly at first, and his skills at solving cases are still sharp and it’s always a highlight to read about how his mind processes clues. The murder case then intersects with a missing persons case and Hazard and Somers are once again racing to find the truth to save lives. The events twist around each other and some of the events here also tie back to previous books and the cases and their investigative work have history behind it. Not everything is solved and settled here and, while this book is not a cliffhanger, there is an ongoing storyline introduced here.
Some of the best moments of this book are when Hazard and Somers let each other in and, while their relationship is difficult, when we are shown the true love they have for each other, it certainly elevates their story to something special. There are more Hazard and Somers books planned, which is great news because I will certainly be ready to catch up with them once more.